In PostRank We Trust

Last night I attended the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup featuring some of the team from AideRSS. The message they left everybody with “Everything so far has only been a demo”.

A lot of the questions that were asked came from the perspective of how AideRSS could help PR and advertising people, and a few of them were also about the future of AideRSS as a company, as a platform, and on the development of RSS as a utility vs. just a technology.

During the question and answer period, Ilya Grigorik, the founder of AideRSS, gave some examples of the tracking that the PostRank algorithm does to measure the engagement of blog posts. Since I’ve been using AideRSS I thought there were only four factors that determined a post’s ranking were comments, social bookmarks (delicious), trackbacks, and Diggs. I had no idea of all the services that PostRank also analyzed.  As far as external sources of conversation, PostRank examines: Twitter, Pownce, Digg, Del.icio.us, Ma.gnolia, and Google Trackbacks. If that’s true it could mean that you have a say in your own posts’ PostRank score by updating your micro-blogging services whenever you publish a new post. As the algorithms to generating PostRank values continue to evolve integrating more scores from different services, PRO, or PostRank Optimization (I called it!), might be something that could be done by publishers to help boost their PostRank values.

But it appears that AideRSS doesn’t measure twitter mentions of a blog post if the url in the message is a tiny url. I see 0 twitter messages for all my blog posts on AideRSS when I know that’s not the case.

One of the really exciting thoughts of the night was of PostRank becoming a new grading mechanism that could replace Technorati as main ranking board for the world’s blog. AideRSS’s Community Manager, Melanie Baker said this (rough quotation) “When all you had to measure was traffic, that’s all you had to take into account. But now we’ve got all of this different stuff…” So AideRSS, or a new web property powered by PostRank, could one day become the new Technorati, but do it by providing better rankings of blogs globally, and across specific niches. They would also not base rankings only on traffic, but also by all of the social conversations and engagement taking place across the web for a blog.

Here’s something I think might give a small indication of what AideRSS will provide users in the future. Take this example: I’m a amateur photographer. If I’m new to the field I could waste a lot of my time finding photography blogs, some would be good, some not so much, or some blogs might get a lot of traffic but wouldn’t really help me. What AideRSS might do in the future is have a big directory of RSS feeds available to the public that say “Here, follow this feed and you’ll get the top 20% of all the blog posts from across the net on photography.” AideRSS has just saved me a lot of time, and I’ve reduced the total number of new items that might have flooded my RSS aggregator.  I’m just left with the most valuable posts.

Something like that is what we can expect in the future, but for now, a hack is to do this: Head over to Alltop.com’s Photography page, copy down the RSS feeds of each of the blogs listed there, and proceed to filter them all through AideRSS. And voila! The best articles from 70 different photography feeds, averaging out to be around 20% of the total number of posts.  (Though this did take me about an hour to do with the current tools available.)

Download the best posts from Alltop.com‘s Photography section as an OPML file: best-of-alltop-photography.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Malcolm — thanks for the write-up! Definitely a good overview of what we do now, and what the future might hold.

    One correction — we do analyze tweets, and it doesn’t matter if the URLs contained are shortened or not. In reality, most Twitter clients auto-shorten tweets, so we pretty much have to be able to parse that. We just don’t display tweets in our analysis results.

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